First, what are disclosures?
They're potential issues that sellers fill out on a required form to help you avoid any surprises when buying a home.
What's in a disclosure form?
Sellers are required to report all known defects in the home.
This includes defects in the...
The two most important reports to review in the disclosure packet are the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) and the Seller Property Questionnaire (SPQ). In the TDS, the seller is required to disclose any known problems and/or damages related to the property. For instance, it will cover defects, malfunctioning utilities, environmental hazards, non permitted spaces, etc. The SPQ includes about 50 additional questions regarding the condition of the property.
While sellers must disclose all work and upgrades, be wary of any completed work without city permits, which could lead to fire or health risks if not up to code.
Common seller disclosures also include pets, pest problems, property line disputes, and knowledge of major construction projects in the area.
Other disclosures you might see include bankruptcy proceedings, property, non-tempered glass on shower doors, unusual odors in the neighborhood, and recent deaths on the property.
When you get into contract on a home, you'll also get a ~50+ page document with a natural hazards disclosure, lead-based paint notification, market condition advisories, and even nearby sex offenders.
Pro Tip: No disclosure is truly binding - signing one does not lock someone into an as-is sale.